Raw Feeding Overview

Raw is the ultimate ancestral diet. It has become a popular trend with pet owners as an alterative to cooked commercial pet foods. Its effectiveness is proven by the continued existence of wild canine and feline species. Initially, feeding raw will require more thought and preparation in comparison to opening a can or bag of kibble. However, the rewards are often so dramatic raw feeders wonder what took them so long to make the switch.

The Benefits of Raw
The reported benefits include:

  • Shinier coat
  • Healthier skin with less doggie smell
  • Fresher breath
  • Cleaner teeth
  • Better weight control
  • Less arthritic pain
  • Improved digestion
  • Disappearance of allergy symptoms
  • Decreased shedding
  • Increased energy levels
  • Firmer, smaller stools
  • A general increase in overall health which means lower vet bills
  • Deceased feeding costs when meat is purchased directly from your butcher

Raw Terminology
There are two main methods of raw feeding - Prey Model and BARF. Their differing concepts are based on the classification of canines - carnivore or omnivore. Cats are without question classed as obligate carnivores, meaning they must have a diet of meat to live to their full potential. Why then is so much grain in commercially cooked cat food, you ask. Our article, Feeding Your Feline will answer this question and guide you in feeding your cat a more species appropriate diet.

BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food supports Dr. Ian Billinghurst's belief that dogs are omnivores.  "The BARF DIETTM does not contain grain products. Grains are not biologically appropriate for our pets. The ingestion of grain and other starchy foods contribute to most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases. Domestic pets should be getting their carbohydrate in a similar manner to their wild ancestors. Natural Fresh fruits and vegetables, in the BARF DIETTM, provide a natural source of carbohydrates in a more digestible format. Current trends of improving the diets, exercise, health and well being of humans have influenced the way we have improved the feeding regimen for our prized pets."
Excerpt from Barfworld.com      

Prey Model Raw (PMR) supports Dr. Tom Lonsdale's belief that dogs are carnivores.
"It differs from the BARF diet by not including vegetables, fruit and dairy. There is the age old debate of whether wolves/dogs are true carnivores and should have plant matter included in their diet. We here at PMR don't believe they are a necessity. Will they harm your dogs? Probably not, maybe just a bit of digestive upset. But are they necessary? Absolutely not". 
Excerpt from preymodelraw.com

"Grinding, cooking, veggies, and supplements have no place and no need (with few exceptions) in a natural diet for a carnivore".
Excerpt from Prey4pets.com     

RMBs stand for Raw Meaty Bones. It is common terminology when referencing certain aspects of a raw natural diet for pets. It is also the title of a book by Tom Lonsdale.
"Raw Meaty Bones (RMBs) - are any item that has both meat and EDIBLE bone. Some examples of RMBs are chicken leg quarters, backs, necks, wings, turkey necks, fish, rabbit, ostrich neck, beef neck bones, pork neck bones, duck, pheasant, ox tails ... and so on. Leg bones of large animals - like deer or cows - are NOT RMBs.  These are recreational bones.  Most dogs cannot actually consume the bone in a leg bone of a cow.  The bone is much too hard (it was meant to carry the weight of the cow).  Even beef knuckle bones - a softer bone - are recreational.  They take too long to consume to be considered part of a meal".
Excerpt from rawdogranch.com

Muscle Meat is flesh without bones, such as:

  • Ground meat
  • Filets
  • Hearts
  • Gizzards
  • Tongue

Common sources of muscle meat are beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, rabbit, venison and fish. Other available sources are bison, llama, kangaroo, emu, ostrich or goat.

Organs are:

  • Liver (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey)
  • Kidneys (beef or lamb)

Complete and Balanced
Nutritionally complete and balanced statements on commercial pet food are based on AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) regulations for chemical analysis and limited feeding trials. Since most pet food manufacturers want you to feed their brand exclusively for your pet's entire life, the complete and balanced phrase is especially relative to them.

The concept of nutritional balance is a good one, yet wolves or even people for that matter do not eat every meal as complete and balanced. The goal we aim for is VARIETY and balance over time. A basic example of this would be a morning meal of RMBs and the evening meal of meat with organs (without bone). See a sample weekly menu

Dogs and cats essentially require water, amino acids from animal proteins, animal fats, vitamins and minerals. Some carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits are beneficial in providing natural antioxidants, fiber or trace minerals. But they must be pureed or lightly cooked to aid in their digestion. Grain is optional.  

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition believes some supplements in general are a good idea. Most Prey Model Raw advocates believe their formula (think carcass) needs no supplementation because all vitamins and minerals are provided within the various meat meals. BARFers and most other raw food advocates supplement to one degree or another. A good rule of thumb is to at least supplement daily with vitamins that don't store well such as B, C and E and Omega 3 fatty acid (fish oil).

Commercial Raw Options
Pet owners have been feeding raw for many years. However, since 2007 - the year of the recalls - consumer interest in home prepared meals and raw feeding has grown tremendously. More commercial products are available for raw pet meals than ever before. Prepackaged raw appeals to pet owners who do not care to handle raw meat, who are nervous about feeding bones or those who believe planning a variety of raw meals is too time consuming.

Against The Grain is a provider of the commercial brands Primal, Bravo, Blue Ridge Beef, Oma's Pride and Aunt Jeni's.

The biggest drawback to pre-packaged raw foods is the cost. When purchasing any raw product, you must carefully read the ingredient label and check the "Best By" dates for freshness just as you would any commercial pet food.  

In conclusion, ATG wishes to convey to you one very important message about feeding your pet. Whether you choose commercial food, raw or a combination of both, please realize that there is no one right food or method of feeding. Every pet is different. What works best for my pet may not work best for yours. The products we bring to you are those we believe in ... those that we HAVE and DO use for our own pets.  

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:

1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]